The near wholesale destruction of Origen's work-a result of the controversy surrounding his more speculative leanings-imparts a sense of treasure regained to this reprint of his Philocalia
. Compiled from 'various laborious treatises' these selections of scriptural problems and solutions were given to Theodorus, Bishop of Tyana, by Gregory the Theologian and Basil the Great as a 'memorial...containing extracts of passages which may be of service to scholars' (Gregory of Nazianzus in a letter to Theodorus). The fact that it was compiled by two of the Church's most venerable Fathers goes a long way toward accounting for the document's survival. As it stands, Origen's Philocalia
covers all manner of concerns: heretical interpretation of Holy Scripture; a discussion of free will; the nature of matter and evil; discourses on fate and astrology; the use of logic and philosophy in relationship to the study of Scripture; a discussion on the divisions among Christians; and the ever-confounding question of God's foreknowledge and the idea of predestination. Regarding the heresy pronounced upon Origen for certain erroneous conclusions, the translator offers commentary both gracious and forthright: 'If we find in Origen's own words about Holy Scripture a deep and solid foundation of truth constructed with earnestness and wisdom...it is possible that we may be led to regard his other labours with charity, if not with gratitude, and to remember that his errors refer to questions which had not in his time been decided by the authority of the Church.' In a kind of living response to this charitable regard, Origen himself writes (concerning man's understanding of Fate): 'God Who ordereth all things for the best, with good reason hides the future from our eyes. For the knowledge of the future makes us relax in the struggle against wickedness...it would be an obstacle in the way of a man's becoming good and upright, if the knowledge that he will certainly some day be good reached him beforehand.'
(Note: this is a facsimile reprint of a one-hundred year-old book. The scanned text may show some imperfections and marginalia but is quite readable.)